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Do Frequent Occurrences of Basal Cell Carcinoma Increase Risk for Other Cancers?

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Recent research published in JCI Insight suggests that patients diagnosed with multiple basal cell carcinomas within a few years may be at increased inherited susceptibility for developing other types of cancer. Kavita Sarin, MD, PhD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues theorize that mutations in proteins responsible for DNA-damage repair may likely be the culprit of this increased cancer risk.

“We discovered that people who develop 6 or more basal cell carcinomas during a 10-year period are about 3 times more likely than the general population to develop other, unrelated cancers,” noted Dr. Sarin in a press release from the Stanford Medicine News Center. “We’re hopeful that this finding could be a way to identify people at an increased risk for a life-threatening malignancy before those cancers develop.”

The authors studied 61 patients treated at Stanford Hospital and Clinics between 2005 and 2015 who developed basal cell carcinomas with exceptional frequency. These patients underwent analysis of 29 DNA-repair genes, and 20% of participants were found to have mutations in at least 1 of the identified genes. Overall, about one-third of patients (n = 21) also reported a history of other cancers.

To confirm their findings, the researchers also performed a retrospective analysis on 13,264 patients reporting 6 or more basal cell carcinomas between 2007 and 2011 who were identified using a large U.S. insurance claims database. Like those in the original study, these patients were also more than three times as likely to develop additional cancers as those with less frequent occurrences of basal cell carcinoma. Within this correlation, an upward trend was identified: the higher the number of basal cell carcinomas reported by a patient, the more likely it was the patient had also experienced other types of cancer.

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